There are many different mind-altering substances to which a person could become addicted. The ones that often most readily come to mind are alcohol, marijuana, heroin, and cocaine. Of course, each of these substances has, at times, been a menace to society on a large scale, but they’re far from the only substances that continue to pose a problem today.
Hallucinogens — while not as widely used as heroin or alcohol — continue to have a following among recreational drug users today. However, hallucinogens are different from the other more common classes of drugs in several important ways. In some ways, a person might even consider hallucinogens to be the most dangerous drugs of all.
For this reason, it’s extremely important to have a basic knowledge of hallucinogens in general. But in particular, a drug known as MDA is one with which we should all be familiar. What is MDA, exactly? What are its effects, and is it addictive like other types of drugs?
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What Is MDMA?
MDMA also, known as molly, can be sold as X or ecstasy. It is a synthetic drug that became popular as a party drug in the 1980s for its reported effects.
It is typically sold in the following ways:
It’s most commonly ingested orally, but Molly can be smoked, injected, or snorted. Molly is often abused alongside marijuana, LSD, and alcohol. MDMA affects many neurotransmitters in an individual’s brain that controls norepinephrine, dopamine reuptake/production, and serotonin. Unfortunately, when the balance of the above-mentioned chemicals is comprised, there is a greater possibility for severe side effects to occur.
When it comes to hallucinogens, people tend to be most familiar with LSD, peyote, and psilocybin mushrooms, but there are far more hallucinogenic substances than many would expect. As well, it’s quite common for people to mistake MDA or MDMA, which, believe it or not, is a related substance; however, MDMA is not considered a hallucinogen while MDA is. To learn more about MDA, we’ll have to take a look back on the circumstances that led to its initial development.
Side Effects of MDMA
MDMA might produce desired effects for three to six hours, but the side effects that an individual can experience afterward can range from uncomfortable to dangerous and last up to a week. After the initial high, a person can experience the following side effects of MDA:
- Decreased pleasure and interest in sex
- Attention and memory problems
- Aggression and impulsiveness
- Decreased appetite
- Sleep problems
If you or someone you know notices these changes, definitely consider reaching out to us to discuss the possibility of MDMA abuse and what treatment options are available.
Sally is considered another psychedelic and stimulant that can produce similar effects to those of Molly. Even though MDA isn’t a well-known drug, it can be sold as Ecstasy or Molly often since they look so similar. Sally affects the same chemicals in an individual’s brain as Molly does, including norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin.
Individuals might undergo the effects of Sally for six to eight hours. As an additional result, they might experience more visual hallucinations compared to the “loving” high that is typically associated with MDMA. After the short-term desired effects of the drug wear off completely, numerous lasting negative effects can occur.
Side Effects of Sally (MDA)
After an individual consumes Sally, they might experience:
- Decreased appetite
- An increased amount of energy
- Sweating, dry mouth
- Jaw clenching
Once the effects of Sally wear off, the person might undergo:
- Memory loss/confusion
- Sexual problems
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle stiffness
These side effects can be heightened in a negative light if MDA is taken alongside other drugs or laced with more drugs.
It is possible for an individual to overdose on Sally or Molly. One of the greatest risks comes from not being completely sure what an individual is taking or buying. Both Sally and Molly are sold as powder and pills and can be cut with other drugs and laced. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) informs that illicit MDMA might contain the following:
On their own, Sally and Molly can lead to a potential risk of overdose. These drugs can regulate temperatures which as a result can lead to:
- Cardiovascular system failure
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
Dangers of Sally and Molly
As previously mentioned, Sally and Molly affect neurotransmitters in an individual’s brain that help to regulate serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Dopamine assists in balancing the brain’s natural reward system, while serotonin affects an individual’s appetite, sleep, and mood. In addition, norepinephrine assists in regulating blood pressure and heart rate.
When an imbalance is caused by any of these chemicals, it can lead to potential side effects such as:
- Weight or appetite changes
- New or worsening depression
- New or worsening anxiety
- Memory problems, insomnia
Treatment Options for MDA and MDMA
Substance use disorders can be treated in a variety of treatment programs, such as outpatient programs and inpatient treatment. In an outpatient treatment program, an individual will visit a treatment center a couple of times each week and return home after receiving resources and support. In an inpatient treatment program, an individual will attend a detox facility and stay for several weeks to a month while recovering.
Whether you decide an outpatient or inpatient treatment program is more suited for you, your recovery might include any if not all of the following practices:
- Evaluation and treatment for other mental health disorders
- Individual or group therapy
- Reward-based incentives
- Behavioral counseling
MDA vs. MDMA
Molly and Sally are recreational drugs that work as hallucinogens and stimulants. They are most similar in effect and appearance, but they are different drugs. Each drug has the capability of causing potentially severe side effects.
Sally (MDA) and Molly (MDMA) act as psychedelics and stimulants. Due to this reason, they might cause an individual to experience similar effects. As a general rule, individuals report:
- Feelings of euphoria
They report the above feelings when taking MDA or MDMA. The primary difference between the two drugs is Sally provides an intense but gradual high to a person. This high has the possibility of causing more visual hallucinations and can last slightly longer.
Neither of these drugs is approved by the FDA for medical purposes, which translated means that individuals cannot receive a prescription for them. Instead, MDA and MDMA are considered illicit drugs that are sold on the streets as a pill or as a powder. The most unfortunate side of this is individuals aren’t able to entirely determine which drug is being received or if it’s been cut or laced with anything else.
Due to there not being regulated dosing information, the risk of overdose is typically increased with either drug.
History of MDA
MDA stands for 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine. It’s also been known as tenamfetamine, or INN for short. Whichever you prefer to call it, the substance was first created in 1910 by German chemists Carl Mannich and his associate W. Jacobsohn.
The substance wasn’t paid much mind until several years later when it was ingested by Gordon Alles in 1930, but even then it wasn’t fully tested. In 1939, animal trials using MDA began, followed by human trials in 1941 in the hope that the disease could be used as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Between 1949 and 1957, more than 500 human subjects were given MDA as part of an investigation as to whether the drug could potentially be used as an antidepressant or even as an appetite suppressant for use in dieting.
Meanwhile, the United States was also experimenting with MDA (in addition to several drugs) in the hope of finding substances that could be used as “truth serums” during and just after World War II. In 1953, Harold Blauer died after having 450mg of the drug unknowingly injected straight into his bloodstream as part of Project MKUltra. The Project MKUltra was the secretive C.I.A. experimental program in which they had been testing several drugs — including LSD — as part of their research into mind-control.
Even so, MDA was patented as a cough suppressant just five years after Blauer’s death; later, it was patented as a tranquilizer (1960) and as an appetite suppressant in 1961. The drug’s actual uses and effects couldn’t be decisively pinned down.
MDA as a Recreational Drug
Between 1963 and 1964, MDA began to be used as a recreational drug among substance abusers. At the time, the drug was extremely inexpensive and could be readily purchased by one of any number of scientific supply houses. Meanwhile, several researchers experimented with the substance as an aid in psychotherapy, but the drug was eventually classified as a Schedule I substance by the Food and Drug Administration, indicating that MDA has very high abuse and/or addictive potential and little to no therapeutic uses.
As psychedelic drugs became all the rage in the 1960s, the use of MDA spread as the substance became known as the “hug drug” while its users jokingly insisted that ‘MDA’ stood for ‘Mellow Drug of America.’ However, MDA would come to be known as the precursor to MDMA. MDMA is the active ingredient in ecstasy and is a version of the drug with much milder dissociative effects while maintaining many of the physical sensations that MDA evokes.
Effects of MDA
Again, MDA often evokes either comparisons or confusion with the MDMA. Despite being quite similar on a molecular level and having some degree of overlap in their effects, it’s important to remember that these are two distinct drugs. The chief difference between the two is that, while MDMA has stimulant properties, MDA’s stimulant properties are stronger.
MDA also has more hallucinogenic properties, while MDMA has little to no hallucinogenic properties. This is why MDMA is typically categorized as a stimulant while MDA is a hallucinogen (although the latter could certainly be put into both categories). In short, MDMA is more ‘mellow’ and less hallucinogenic than MDA.
As you might expect of a stimulant drug with hallucinogenic properties, MDA triggers an increase in energy through the following ways:
- An increased heart rate
- Blood pressure
- Body temperature
Moreover, there’s something of a sense of euphoria that accompanies the drug’s use. Expectedly, some hallucinations accompany the use of MDA. Typically, these are visual hallucinations, although auditory hallucinations are possible. Due to MDA’s greater strength and intensity, the drug is more likely to induce side effects such as:
- And several other such effects
Is MDA Addictive?
While most hallucinogenic substances aren’t addictive in a conventional sense, the stimulant properties of MDA make addiction a possibility. However, it’s the hallucinogenic properties of MDA that will likely keep users from using it with enough frequency to become physiologically dependent on the drug. Instead, the most likely scenario would be for an individual to develop an MDA habit wherein he or she feels the need to use MDA frequently simply because he or she has gotten used to the frequent use of the drug rather than because he or she will experience withdrawals without it.
Research hasn’t answered whether MDMA is addictive, although it affects many of the same neurotransmitters in an individual’s brain that are targeted by other addictive drugs. Some individuals who have used MDMA report symptoms of addiction, including continued use despite psychological or negative consequences, withdrawal, cravings, and tolerance.
The Risks of Frequent MDA Use
Many of the risks associated with MDA use pertain to self-injury. Since it’s a hallucinogenic substance, MDA could provoke behaviors that cause individuals harm to themselves or others. However, there’s also the risk of overdose; as with virtually any drug with stimulant properties, a person who takes too much MDA could go into cardiac arrest after taking a large amount of the drug.